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November 01, 2003

A one-dollar bill is on auction!
Hamed Seyed-allaei  [info|posts]

dice You have had enough of serious discussions, now let's play a game. The game is famous and is called Shubik's one dollar auction. Assume someone puts a one dollar bill on auction. Every thing is like an ordinary auction. There is however a single important difference: the second highest bidder has to pay his/her proposed price and receive nothing.

Once you have entered the game, you cannot stop bidding, because at the beginning you like to get the one dollar bill for almost nothing and at the end you bid, just to avoid being the second person who loses his/her money for nothing. Experiments show that people pay more than three dollars for the one dollar bill. This is a negative-sum game. In this game the winner loses, too.

This is a simple funny game which describes terrible situations like a war. When you gain victories you won't stop the war because you want more and when you lose, you won't stop it because you don't like to leave the war as a loser. Therefore, if both side are not wise enough to finish the war, it will continue until the termination of one side and the situation of the other side won't be much better.

Obviously, it is better to prevent entering such a game but sometimes we cannot avoid it because the other side starts the game. In that case, we should find an optimal strategy to leave the game. One solution is that a third person who is accepted by both sides, proposes a solution, which can satisfy both sides. This is similar to what the US wants to do for Palestine-Israel's game.

When such a third person is not available, a rational way to choose a policy is that we should know how much we will gain and lose if we play. Then we must estimate our power and how long we can stand against the opponent. We may use some randomness. Let's say we can choose a random number between zero and our maximum resistance time. Once we have chosen the length of resistance and the goals, we must play till then, neither more nor less. It does not matter if we will leave it victorious or not. This is a simple strategy, which works well; you can check it on Iran-Iraq war and see what would have happened if this strategy had been applied to the war. You can look at many cases from this point of view, US-Iran relation can be another example.

I also think the political battle in Iran is in this category. Both reformists and conservatives like to win and eliminate the other one. Both are wasting their power, credit and popularity plus our time and money in the game and both of them gain almost nothing. What is the solution, then? Is it possible to find a third person? Is there any proposal?

yahya at November 1, 2003 04:33 PM [permalink]:

"Let's say we can choose a random number between zero and our maximum resistance time. Once we have chosen the length of resistance and the goals, we must play till then, neither more nor less."

Can you Hamed explain more about this strategy? Why not train ourselve to finish the game when we feel victorious?

WhoMan at November 1, 2003 04:46 PM [permalink]:

First off, thanks for linking to my site and tipping me off of that.

Apart from isolated, small, and sporadic joint Israeli and Palestinian groups that promote peace, the atmosphere between the two nations fits in the context you're describing. But I don't see that about Iran's reformists and hardliners.

There's been a growing trend amongst the both camps to co-habit instead of eliminating each other.
Hardliners learned that reformists could be their face (both internationally and internally, more of the former). Reformists keep saving the Islamic republic's butt in various crises.
Khatami and his like-minded buddies also caught up on to the fact that they have more in common with right of the centre hardliners than liberal-minded people who have "dubious" agendas. He has implied that all along. He is NOT for any kind of reforms that deems to be radical somehow to the sensetive conservative bunch. He is a clergy after all.

What's the solution for Iran? I had a series of discussions on the subject. Solution for Iran is very complicated. There was a chance that the Iranian government get itself cornered internationally (through the nuclear activities and human rights records). They managed to defuse them for now. One other possibilty is voter apathy that will bring more half-witted politicians in power whereby future crises won't be easy for them to skip.

Senior Grad at November 2, 2003 07:00 PM [permalink]:

"Let's say we can choose a random number between zero and our maximum resistance time. Once we have chosen the length of resistance and the goals, we must play till then, neither more nor less."

How about setting a minimum resistance time? Would that work too? ;-) Remember the famous graffiti on walls all over our big cities before the cup of hemlock went down the tube? "Even if this war takes twenty years, we shall resist".

But joking aside, I guess in the simple game you describe there are various important asumptions that must all satisfy, while some or all of them do not hold for the Arab-Israeli conundrum. For example the players must be willing to cooperate and accept the rules of the game as binding. There is no ground such cooperation between Arabs and Israel to begin with! Players must also act rationally, which is another assumption that can be easily violated by Hossein Shari'atmadari of Kayhan daily. :-)

Hamed at November 3, 2003 12:35 PM [permalink]:


You do not know if you will gain some victories at all. You might wait for something which never comes.
It should be random in order to make it difficult for other side to guess how long you will stand.


I believe that it is about power. Reformist are reformist because in this way they can capture more power. Conservative are conservative, just to save themselves from reformist. The only thing which they have in common, is the power. So when a third one wants to enter the game, they won't let him. I think that's why sometimes you can see some cooperation.

Senior Grad,

The situation in this game is competitive. The continue to play because they do not want to collaborate. Which perfectly match with the Palestine and Israel case. And being rational is not necessary. If they were rational, they won't start a negative-sum game.

exir at November 28, 2003 01:20 PM [permalink]:

For the iran-iraq war might be better to look at

joe momma at December 18, 2003 05:32 PM [permalink]:

this is so stuppid. get a life you nerd. y are you trying to sell a one dollar bill for money. someone can just go to a frikin bank.

joe dadda at December 18, 2003 05:38 PM [permalink]:

i like money. can i have some? Do u have any twentys? how about the new twentys. they have color onj them. isn't that cool? do u think that is gay? have you ever done it under water? it sucks because you winky shrinks to a smaller size because of the molecules in chlorinne. how about in an airplane bathroom? when you hit turbulence it shakens things up. call me